Burgers, hearty breakfast platters and indulgent desserts rank high with consumers, according to Technomic’s menu concept development survey. The canvass of 500 consumers on purchase intent for 100 or more chain LTOs reveals which are most likely to be ordered on the basis of the item’s name and description. In descending order, these are the limited-time offers with the most appeal, rounded off to the nearest whole number.
10. The Big Fried Cheese Angus Thickburger
The descriptive adjectives in the name of this burger from Hardee’s convinced 58% of respondents to say they would purchase it. On the menu, it is described as a 100% Angus beef burger charbroiled over an open flame, topped with cheddar and mozzarella cheese coated in a seasoned breading, fried crispy until golden brown—all words that connote premium ingredients. It’s topped with lettuce, tomato, and Hardee’s spicy Star sauce and served on a buttery bun.
9. Old Timer’s Breakfast
Cracker Barrel is a breakfast destination, and the chain’s limited-time Southern-style morning meal scored high with 59% of consumers. The Old Timer’s Breakfast consists of two farm fresh eggs with grits and a choice of thick-sliced bacon, smoked sausage patties or turkey sausage, plus fried apples or hash brown casserole. The hearty plate is accompanied by homemade buttermilk biscuits, sawmill gravy and “the best preserves and jams we could find.” The item’s name and description evoke nostalgia for good, old-fashioned breakfasts.
8. Fudge Truffle Decadence Cake
It would be hard for chocolate lovers to resist this dessert, and 59% of consumers surveyed did find it irresistible after reading its description. The cake, offered at Cold Stone Creamery, is composed of layers of moist red velvet cake, sweet cream ice cream with chocolate shavings and fudge truffle ice cream with chocolate shavings wrapped in rich fudge ganache. Indulgence remains a top selling point during the pandemic.
7. Parmesan Bites
This snacky item was the one outlier in the top 10 list for September. Toppers Pizza use of the words “new” and “free” in the description no doubt grabbed attention, and 60% of consumers agreed. On the menu, the LTO is described as “New parmesan bites! Try them for free with the purchase of a large pizza at a regular price.” Toppers is known for its cheesy breadsticks, and these new bites are a riff on that popular item.
6. Chocolate Whipped Cream Cake
Redstone American Grill also lured customers with chocolate in September. The casual-dining chain promoted a Chocolate Whipped Cream Cake described as a house-made chocolate cake layered with fresh strawberries and chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache frosting, strawberry whipped cream and strawberry coulis. The flavors and ingredients appealed to 60% of consumers surveyed, who indicated they would purchase the cake off the Redstone menu.
5. Strawberry Cheesecake Pie
Strawberries also figured in a dessert LTO from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Customers coming in for Popeyes’ still-popular fried chicken sandwich could also grab this treat—a sweet combination of strawberry pie filling, graham cracker crumbs and cheesecake, all tucked inside a deep-fried, turnover-style crust. The portable dessert, geared to takeout and delivery, was a top purchase choice of 61% of respondents.
4. Big Bacon Classic
A classic bacon cheeseburger from Wendy’s appealed to 61% of consumers. The burger is built with a quarter-pound of fresh, never-frozen beef, Applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, crisp lettuce, tomato, pickle, ketchup, mayo and onion on a toasted bun. Quick-service restaurants like Wendy’s are seeing strong sales these past months, and burgers remain a familiar and satisfying choice.
3. Sirloin Steak Fajitas
Beef showed up in several of the top 10 LTOs, and these fajitas from El Torito scored high with 62% of consumers. Sirloin steak in the item’s name indicates that an upgraded cut is used, and the description elaborates on the cooking technique. The steak is grilled and served on a sizzling skillet with bell peppers, tomatoes and onions, then topped with chimichurri sauce. Roasted corn, white rice, guacamole and choice of tortillas are served on the side.
2. Big Rancher Burger
Coming in at second place is another burger, this time from P.J. Whelihan’s Pub and Restaurant. Sixty-two percent of consumers said they would order the Big Rancher Burger—a craveable combo of ranch-dusted 100% certified Angus beef, topped with American cheese, ranch-seasoned onion rings, pickles, shredded lettuce and ranch aioli on a bakery fresh roll. Ranch is a flavor that continues to be popular with diners and restaurants—26% of operators offer it in menu items, according to Technomic. P.J. Whelihan’s gives consumers a triple dose of ranch in this burger to lure them.
1. The Classic
Sometimes the simplest dish turns into a winner. Village Inn’s breakfast of toast, two eggs, any style, and choice of two bacon strips or two sausage links earned the top spot, with 70% of consumers saying they would purchase it. This basic breakfast plate, available at thousands of restaurants around the country, scored 8 percentage points above the No. 2 choice in the September survey. Familiarity seems to be in demand these days.